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A scientific paper in Nature in 1960 entitled "Lepidoteuthis grimaldii—a Squid with Scales" describes a squid that was found in the contents of a whale and (at the time) was the fourth specimen of its kind. Even now specimens are hard to come by.

A more recent photo of a specimen can be found on the Lepidoteuthis grimaldii wikipedia page, and i copy it in here:

enter image description here

Regarding the scales the 1960 paper states: "The 'scales' of these specimens are rather softer than those usually forming the external protection of fish, although... they resemble ganoid scales in general appearance". He then goes on to write that during preservation of the specimen in formalin the scales had softened and that he remembered the fresh condition as being a more 'horny' structure and concludes that they fit with a dictionary definition of scales.

The upper part of the squid are fins that help propel the squid through the water. For those opinions who would permit non-fish species so long as they have fins and scales, what would qualify as 'fins'?

Would this species be halachically considered as having 'fins and scales'?

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Nachmanides (Commentary on the Torah, Leviticus 11:9), basing himself on the Talmud, Tosefta and Targumin, explains that the qasqeseth required by the Torah refers to a scale that is separate/removable from the skin of the kosher sea creature:

והם הקליפין העגולים שגלדן דומה לצפורן שהם נפשטין מעור הדג ביד או בסכין אבל כל שהוא קבוע ודבוק בעור הדג ואינו נפרד מן העור כלל אינו קשקשת ובעליו אסור הוא ולכך אמרו בגמרא (שם סו) קשקשת לבושא הוא

The Ramo (YD 83) codifies this interpretation:

וקשקשת - הן הקליפות הקבועות בו. הגה - ודוקא שהם נקלפים ביד או בכלי, אבל אם אי אפשר לקלפן מעור הדג לא מקרי קשקשת (המ"מ פ"א דמ"א):

"And scale" - these are the peels fixed in it (the kosher sea creature). Gloss: Specifically those that are peelable by hand or with a utensil, but if it is impossible to peel them from the skin of the fish, it is not called scales (HM''M 1:41)

The Magid Mishna (Laws of Forbidden Foods 1:24:1) suggests that this requirement is also assumed by Maimonides.

In fact, according to the OU, the "Ramban’s requirement is discussed in the Achronim, but is universally accepted as the halacha."

Furthermore, according to the OU (id), the reason sharks are not considered kosher is because their scales are not easily removed from the skin without tearing the skin. Likewise, "American Eel (Anguilla Anguilla) is known to have scales that could be 'kosher' if not for the fact that they are deeply embedded into the skin."

A very cursory search of the internet does not seem to present much evidence that the superficially scale-like features of the Lepidoteuthis grimaldii correspond to the requirements of the rishonim and achronim for qasqeseth. For example, the "soft-scaled" squid is described more recently as having a "distinctive hexagonal shaped dermal cushion, formerly called 'scaled', that covers the mantle except for the posteroventral part under the posterior half of the fins."

Similarly, Wikipedia (at the time of writing) cites scientific sources describing the rare squid's "scales" more precisely as dermal cushions that do not sound like they would be any more likely to meet the requirements of qasqeseth than would the scales of sharks and eels:

The overlapping "scales" of Lepidoteuthis grimaldii are actually dermal cushions with a vacuolate internal structure that are continuous with a similarly vacuolate underlying layer of mantle tissue... Structurally very similar (though non-overlapping) dermal cushions are found in Pholidoteuthis adami. It has been proposed that these two species achieve buoyancy by means of the fluid stored in their vacuolate dermal cushions and upper mantle layer. Given their spongy form, these cushions may also play a secondary protective role.

In fact, I'm not clear why this particular squid's dermal cushion should be any more a candidate for qasqeseth than that of less rare species. I'm not personally aware of any source that requires the the scales overlap, which seems to be the seemingly non-halachic, distinctive feature of this particular squid. (Notably, the verse actually seems to require only one scale.) Ultimately, it seems that the Ramban's additional general guideline (id) that kosher aquatic life are found near the surface remains unchallenged by this deep sea-dwelling cephalopod.

(It seems worth noting as well that describing the fins of the Grimaldi "scaled" squid as snapir presupposes that tailfins qualify.)

  • "as snapir presupposes that tailfins qualify", good point. thats part of what my question was also trying to get at i.e. for those who hold that snapir and kaskeset are not specifically for fish, what would qualify as fins. Maybe i need to edit to make clearer. thanks for post. – bondonk Sep 13 '18 at 13:32
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    Maybe if they overlap they're more likely to come off easily because they have less area attached to the squid. But in any case, you haven't proven that they're not kosher, you've just shown that someone needs to do more work to prove that they are kosher. – Heshy Sep 13 '18 at 13:46
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R. Natan Slifkin:

Contrary to popular belief, the Torah does not say that a sea creature has to be a fish in order to be kosher. It only speaks of “anything that has fins and scales.” And, uniquely among cephalopods, the Grimaldi squid actually has fins and scales...

[W]hile some authorities are of the view that any scaled and finned aquatic creature is kosher, Rambam and others maintain that it must be a fish.

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    Could you bring the sources for the Rambam and "others"? They aren't quoted directly in the article – b a Sep 12 '18 at 10:29
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    Grimaldi squid doesn't necessarily have halachically defined fins and/or scales, so i'd be interested to see how this applies specifically – bondonk Sep 12 '18 at 10:55
  • @ba I'm afraid that's sa much as I've got. You can always email R. Slifkin to ask him for his sources - his email address is easy to find online – Joel K Sep 12 '18 at 11:09
  • @bondonk R. Slifkin is specifically addressing Grimaldi squid in this article - he seems to assume that its fins and scales fit the halachic criteria – Joel K Sep 12 '18 at 11:10
  • There's a lot of discussion on his blog post here. All un-sourced, but some interesting points made on either side of the issue. – ezra Sep 12 '18 at 14:18

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